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Sanctuary U-turn over claim cat was victim of cruelty

Cat Leah's ears not cut off by thugs how did shelter get it so wrong?

By Laura Abernethy

Published 30/05/2016

Leah the cat
Leah the cat

Mystery surrounds how an animal rehoming charity posted that a badly injured cat was the victim of cruelty only to apparently later deny this was the case.

The Rainbow Rehoming Centre is facing criticism after posting pictures on Friday of cat Leah with injuries to its ears caused by an animal abuser.

The Belfast Telegraph was so disgusted that it offered a £1,000 reward for information leading to the perpetrator's arrest.

The newspaper's gesture won widespread support and was shared many times on social media.

The Animal Rights Action Network also offered a £2,500 reward as it felt it was "imperative that any community faced with a sadistic and violent act like this take measures to find the culprits and bring them to justice".

However, the centre has now distanced itself and deleted the post after the family who handed the cat in said that the injuries were due to an infection, not cruelty.

The original post read: "Today we received a phone call from a concerned member of the public about a stray cat that had been hanging about for quite some time. We are appealing for people in the area to help with any information.

"She was found in the Ballynamore Road The Cross Derry/Londonderry area with very badly injured ears along with her two surviving kittens. We have named her Leah and she is receiving the necessary treatment. Any information please contact us."

In a separate post on Facebook, the charity said: "The cat's ears were like this when the cat was found. The left ear had the rest of the ear hanging off by a thread which was dead tissue and fell off when being cleaned."

However, the family who handed the cat into the centre have said that the posts on the Rainbow Rehoming Centre website were "misleading" and called on the centre to explain what happened.

A woman, who asked not to be named, said that her elderly and blind father had been feeding the stray cat for several months.

His daughter explained that they realised there was a problem with her ears but they were unable to pay the veterinary fees.

They were also concerned that their father would not be able to continue looking after her due to his ill-health so they contacted Rainbow Rehoming Centre.

The centre agreed to take the cat in return for a small donation. The family handed the cat in on Thursday and she was taken for veterinary treatment. The woman added: "This has been very stressful for my father and the family.

"We would like the charity to clarify the issue publicly. She did not look like that when I handed her over.

"Those photos are from after treatment."

In a post on Facebook on Saturday, the charity said: "Leah is currently receiving the treatment needed for her ears and both Leah and her kittens are doing extremely well.

"Sadly the treatment resulted in the removal of the remainder of her ears.

"We have consulted with our vets and there is no evidence that animal cruelty was involved. We would like to thank those in the Ballynamore area that cared for both Leah and her kittens which resulted in Leah receiving the treatment she needed."

The Belfast Telegraph contacted the Rainbow Rehoming Centre last night but no one was available to comment on how the misunderstanding had occurred.

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